Wallace Dorsey, born in 1842, the famed builder and owner of the historically
acclaimed Dorsey Mansion at Mountain Spring, N.M., led a glamorous, honest and
successful career until he entered the political arena in 1872. |
moment on his life was plagued with fraud, conspiracies, shenanigans, thefts and
Seizing his land, a Spanish Land Grant, by fraud and sheer guts,
he defended it against the courts and continually improved and developed it into
a legend. Myths tell of his holding wanderers as prisoners and making them work
to pay him so-called fines for trespassing.
He also allegedly held a family
of Italian rock masons prisoner in order to lay the carved rock walls of the famed
mansion. Water for his extensive landscaping and fountain was piped from miles
away by materials he had stolen from the government. Somehow, he managed to secure
U.S. mail contracts time and again in spite of being under investigation for fraud
unable to resist the temptations of illegal claims and defrauding the U.S. government,
Dorsey accumulated land, fortune, fame and reputation the remainder of his life.
In one famous episode, Dorsey sold a large ranch and thousands of cattle to a
British concern. The Dorsey cowboys drove the herd of cattle around and around
a large mesa with the Brits counting the same cattle time and again.
was one particular yellow steer named Old Buck that was bob-tailed, lop-horned
and limped as he walked. When Old Buck came around the mesa the third time one
of the Brits said, “There sure seems to be a lot of those crippled, lop-horned,
yellow steers in the herd.”
After Old Buck finally died the cowboys claimed
his ghost still showed up from time to time limping around the mesa looking for
scheme taking place at the mansion was to establish a sanitarium for tuberculosis
patients. An elaborate steam bath system was installed which, along with the high
desert atmosphere, was touted to cure tuberculosis.
A neighbor who made
a living trapping in the nearby mountains and raising hogs was famous for never
taking a bath.
Dorsey invited him to enjoy the steam bath free, and he
accepted. He took the bath and died three days later. The change in hygiene habits
evidently lowered his resistance to illness.
Dorseys were always hosting parties and community dances and entertaining guests
from Washington and across the nation. One of those functions was a box supper
and auction with every single man in area trying to purchase the box of a most
attractive young widow.
Somehow the rumor spread she had purchased a length
of red ribbon to tie around her box. By the night of the auction, every box had
a red ribbon tied around its cover. The proceeds of the auction exceeded expectations
as was published in the local paper.
Dorsey died in 1916 still involved
and promoting stock schemes in Los Angeles, while numerous lawsuits were in effect
in New Mexico and Washington. Stephen Dorsey stood as a “larger than life” political
caricature in his time.
Trew - January
24, 2012 column
"It's All Trew"
Trew is a freelance writer and retired rancher. He can be reached at 806-779-3164,
by mail at Box A, Alanreed, TX 79002, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For books see delberttrew.com. His column appears weekly.
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